The Sri Lankan office of Microsoft recently extended a grant for a local IT training programme for the country's migrant workers. The IT training forms part of a mandatory two-week programme under the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) to better prepare workers going abroad, a segment which numbers in excess of 1.6 million and is responsible the bulk of Sri Lanka's foreign exchange earnings.
First offered in 2009, the Microsoft grant was at the outset used to set up three centres which has since expanded. Plans are to extend this number to 18 centres across 10 of Sri Lanka's 25 districts. All of which are being run out of SLBFE training centres, facilitated by the Sri Lanka Anti Narcotics Association (SLANA). The most recent was opened in Badulla in the island's centre in September 2011.
The IT training for migrant workers consists of a five-day accelerated programme covering e-mail, Internet, SMS and MMS mobile messaging, Sinhala and Tamil local language use with computers and an introduction to money management via Microsoft Excel.
The programme also teaches one member of each respective migrant worker's families the same basic IT skills so they can communicate with each other most effectively. Meanwhile, according to SLANA, improved communications also helps to counter the high risk of substance abuse, a scenario which has been identified by the organisation as one of the leading problems among families left behind by migrant workers going overseas.(JH)